That’s it, I’m sending myself to mommy boot camp. Not the kind where a meaty trainer with a whistle and a stop watch yells at me to do squats. I’m referring to a place for mentally weak and overly accommodating parents, suffocating their kids with “love”. Maybe that sounds insane to you.
Last week a friend of mine shared a slap in the face kind of article by Emma Jenner about 5 Mistakes plaguing modern day parenting and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
I had just returned from a family vacation to Montana where it became extremely obvious that I’m guilty of all of these mistakes and more. Perhaps being in a different environment brought everything into focus. No matter. One thing is clear: I need a parenting overhaul.
We have a beautiful son, inside and out. He is sweet, charismatic, funny and smart. He is full of determination (which can be both positive and challenging) and fiercely independent. He listens sometimes, he cries often and he whines ALL THE TIME about EVERYTHING. Why does he whine so much? Because I let him.
“I let him whine.” I have to keep repeating that mantra because if I don’t I will subconsciously find another reason to explain his crying. He’s tired, hungry, hasn’t pooped, he’s in an unfamiliar place, he can’t talk yet…he’s only 18 months old.
He is young…but old enough to understand the concept of right wrong and certainly able to discern my tone of voice, indicating which is which. So why don’t I hold him accountable? According to Jenner, it’s because I’ve lowered the bar and developed a fear of my pint sized Chuky. Admittedly, I think she may be onto something.
I avoid following through with my son because I’m scared of upsetting him. Not only are tantrums unnerving but I can feel my confidence being drowned out by guilt as I try to sift through all of the different parenting techniques cluttering my heartbrain.
Yep, I said heartbrain. I don’t when the heart should lead or when the brain should take charge so I develop this catatonic resistance to choosing sides. I mean, can’t we all just get along?
Be stern. Be firm. Be loving. Understand him. Empathize. Show him who’s in charge. Put him in a timeout. Hug him. Acknowledge and respect his feelings. Give him some space. Let him work it out. Ignore him.
Enough! My brain-heart thing hurts. Look at the bird flying by, Wes. No? Okay – have the f-ing cookie already.
I wax and wane and try to empathize and redirect but I now realize that by not establishing clear, firm and consistent boundaries, I’ve sent the mixed message that this sort of behavior is acceptable.
That much I get. What I didn’t get is how hard it would be to stop and reverse the habits at a measly 18 months old. My habits – not his.
Holy shit. I’ve become a mother that is scared to discipline her child. The kind of mom I never thought I would be..until I had kids.
So its all true. Cold water in the face, smelling salts to the nose, wake your ass up kind of real. I’ve created a whiner and now I have to suffer the consequences. I guess we both do.
Along with a slew of other promises I’ve made to myself lately, I commit to raising the bar by holding both myself and my son accountable. I, The Confessioness, solemnly swear to reverse these self imposed trends by standing tall on my parenting decisions and to not allow tears or screeching to shake my resolve. I promise to show my love for my son by creating clear and consistent lines of behavioral demarcation in a gentle yet firm manner.
This will most likely require vasts amounts of wine. If you find me on the side of the road looking bewildered and lost please turn me around and shove me off in the direction of sanity. Hopefully I’ll find my way.
If I protest, threaten me with detention.
I will follow through. I will follow through. I will follow through….
– The Confessioness